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April is Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month

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Stress can be exhausting and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. Every April, healthcare professionals across the country join forces to increase the public’s awareness on not only the causes, but also on the treatments for the growing rate of stress and stress-related health issues in this country.

Stress not only affects your mind, it can also make an impact on your body at a cellular level. In fact, long-term stress can lead to a wide array of illnesses, such as headaches, stomach issues, and even depression. Stress can increase the risk of serious conditions like stroke and heart disease as well. Understanding the connection that stress has on your mind and your health can give you an idea of how to better manage your stress and improve your health and well-being.

There are three types of stress that most people face, and those include acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.

  • Acute stress is the most common and frequent form of stress, and is usually the most brief. Acute stress is often caused by reactive thinking to a situation or dilemma. Negative thoughts fill the mind regarding a situation or event that has recently occurred or will be upcoming.
  •  Episodic acute stress is defined by frequent experiences of acute stress, or frequent triggers of stress in a person’s life. Individuals who frequently suffer from acute stress likely live a life of crisis and chaos.
  • Chronic stress is by far the most harmful type of stress and describes when a person feels constant, unyielding stress due to an ongoing situation, i.e. a stressful job or financial struggles. If chronic stress is left untreated over an extended period of time, a person’s physical health can be damaged and their mental health can begin to deteriorate as well.

Managing stress can seem like a daunting task, but when a person is able to step back and control the stress in their life, they can begin to enjoy life again. Here are a few helpful ways to help battle stress in your everyday life:

  • Exercise - Something as simple as walking for 20-30 minutes every day is an awesome stress reliever and a great way to take your mind off of anything that may be bothering you. Additionally, exercise has countless health benefits.
  • Relaxation - By learning to incorporate relaxation techniques into your life, like yoga, journaling, or meditation, you can help your mind rest and enjoy some much needed downtime.
  • Diet - Your stomach and brain are in constant communication, so by keeping your gut happy and healthy, your brain can also be more at ease and feel less stressed.
  • Sleep and Rest - Learn the importance of sleep and rest, and practice incorporating proper relaxation techniques to allow yourself to unwind. Another helpful tip is to disconnect from technology as much as possible an hour before bedtime.
  • Learn to have FUN! - Spending quality time with friends and family, or simply doing an activity that brings you joy, can often be a pleasant distraction from any stress-inducing parts of your life.

At the end of the day, you’re the only person that can address your own unique form of stress. If you are suffering from chronic stress and cannot influence or change the situation, consider changing your approach. Learning to be flexible can allow yourself to open up and be more nimble in the way you address your stress. Remember, you have the ability to choose your response to what triggers your stress. A few things to consider are:

  • Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
  • Don’t get anxious about a situation that is out of your control.
  • Focus on something that calms your mind or something that makes you feel in control.

Addressing stress can be different for every, single person on this planet. How we react to stress is completely dependent on how it affects us. If stress is something that is affecting your life, talk to a healthcare professional or seek professional counseling. It’s critical to take the right steps to prevent stress from taking a larger toll on our lives.

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